by Zoran VUKMAN
All that opens up a new integrated market for the European Union, controlled for at least another ten years behind the imagined line which divides Croatia and the region form the rest of Europe. Naturally, the EU will step into that market only after the USA achieves the control of the energy, geostrategic and economic resources of the region encompassed by the Stability Pact, and when this region becomes ready to accept the American and European capital without much trouble, risk or losses for the investors.
The European Union opted for the tactics of quiet integration of the Balkans, through a network of vague clerical and diplomatic formulations, abstract statements and empty promises, and future exhausting negotiations that do not mean anything for Croatia at this time, apart from further danger of drowning in the Balkan pool.
The summit in Zagreb demonstrated all the emptiness, impotence and lack of authenticity of the European Union. One can only imagine the sterility and lack of authenticity of the Croatian foreign policy! The Americans, after insolently, pragmatically, with threats and concretely "taking care" of Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia, left to the vain European establishment space in which it functions best - empty rhetoric, vagueness, declarations, promises, and general European inclination to complicate issues as much as possible. For American interests and pragmatism, the European formalism is at this moment the most suitable method, that is supposed to reinterpret and twist processes, drag and delay and inconspicuously finalize the project of Balkan integration, hidden behind big European words.
As far as the declaration of the Zagreb Summit is concerned, its running theme is "the regional cooperation", as the first precondition for cooperation with the European Union. Nothing new. When we talk about the individual approach, regardless of how it is interpreted, the text of the declaration formally accepts it, but also paradoxically negates it in the context of demanded regional cooperation!
The individual approach would not be meaningless if the declaration specified that each one of the countries to which the declaration applies could in the future on its own join the EU! If the Croatian path to Europe (or European path towards Croatia, because it should be a mutual process) implicitly depends on the cooperation between Croatia and Serbia and other Balkan countries, then this can only be a contradiction in terms, in whose chasm Croatia again becomes the victim of its geopolitical position, which the EU did not even once try to make easier during the last ten years.
The fundamental failure of the official Zagreb is in the fact that it did not insist on the exclusion of Croatia from the Balkans! The Babble about some sort of Balkan "convoy" on the way to Europe is a civilizational humiliation of Croatia, because once we accepted to be treated equally as Serbia and Albania, we condemned ourselves to defeat and the Balkans! I do not want to underestimate anyone, but Serbia and we are two different words! Croatia is culturally and civilizationally, based on its resources and potentials, such a separate unit with respect to the Bosnian-Serb Balkan that its special treatment would be logically necessary, if the EU had any criteria besides selfish interests and sacrifice of Croatia on the altar of the united Balkans.
If the EU's true intentions were not to nurture a new Yugoslav unit, via monetary and customs union, Croatia would have been long-time ago integrated in the West exactly following the declared principle of "individual approach"! And she would not wait for Kostunica!
Most likely, Chirac cannot mess up anything substantial, but he can play the role of the main initiator. Enough for French vanity and Serb interests. The process has been initiated and everything from this point on is a matter of economic-political inertia.
The declaration is full of favorite abstract diplomatic phrases that open huge possibilities for various interpretations. Advocates of the individual approach are satisfied and at the same time the regional cooperation gets its general document, for future detailed development. Everyone is satisfied, the essence is hidden, the Balkan wolf is sated and the Croatian sheep, at least for now, is whole. However, Chirac, Prodi, and their Croatian butlers will toil for a long time to realize their plan to force this alive, self-aware Croatia at the feet of Chetnik [Serb WWII royalist guerrillas; alternately fought against and collaborated with Germans and Italians; responsible for crimes against Bosniaks, Croats and pro-communist Serbs; also, currently a derogatory term for Serbs in general in Croatia] Serbia led by Draza's [Mihajlovic; Serbian nationalist leader from WWII] dear child Voja [Vojislav] Kostunica!